Our Quality Standards
Seek Sophie’s Quality Standards
We believe that heartfelt interactions with locals give meaning to our travels. Across all activities, we have hand-selected hospitable and responsible local businesses, who will make the time you spend with them count.
Each local business here has been vetted through mystery shopping, traveller feedback and multiple follow-on interviews. They’re not perfect and local context does matter, but they’re each doing their part to make their local communities and environment a little brighter.
Each local business in our community has earned one or more of the following badges, which indicate how your travel will benefit the local communities and the environment.
Tourism can be vital for spreading conservation practices, and driving economic growth in local communities. The “Community-Based” badge means that the local business hires and trains from the local community the activity is based in. This ensures that travel spending directly benefits the local communities, that the local youth are equipped with invaluable job skills, and local communities become vital partners in ground-up conservation efforts.
The “Green fuels” badge means that the local business in their transportation use biofuels distilled from plants, animal and/or waste materials, in order to reduce the carbon emissions released into the natural environment while burning the fuel. This reduces the pollution released into the environment while carrying out the activity.
A local business that is litter-safe is careful to avoid leaving behind non-biodegradable waste in the natural environment. They train their guides to properly dispose of any non-biodegradable litter and practice proper waste management methods. This ensures that the natural environment is kept natural for others to enjoy.
Corals are very fragile animals, that are closely related to jellyfish. They take a long time to grow and some of them are 10,000 years old! Reef-safe local businesses are those who are careful about not allowing corals to be touched or damaged by their instructors or guests, and who are careful to use sunscreen that do not result in coral bleaching.
The “Refuse Plastics” badge doesn’t mean zero-plastics as water sources might not be readily available in certain areas such as the mountain or less developed towns. It does mean that that the Refuse-Plastics businesses are careful about recycling and separating their trash, avoid single use plastics as much as possible, make sure the plastic trash they have is safely removed and disposed and train their guides to act as role models to properly dispose of trash.
Social enterprise businesses seek to maximize profits while maximizing benefits to society and the environment. The businesses that have the “Social Enterprise” badge here have been registered as Social Enterprises under local law, and/or have been otherwise certified as having the principal amount of their profits used to fund social or environmental programs.
Wildlife-Safe businesses are careful to train their guides to keep a safe distance from wildlife, so as to ensure that no distress is caused to wildlife during the activity. This also means that they are careful to keep the wildlife wild by not feeding them, and do their best to ensure the natural habitats of the wild animals are not disturbed.
In most parts of the world where we operate, societies are largely patriarchal, and women are often excluded from employment opportunities in lucrative sectors like tourism. Women-owned enterprises are the local businesses that have been founded by one or more women and that provide employment opportunities to other women in the community. By supporting women-owned businesses we hope to ensure greater income equality and bring about greater equality in opportunity for future generations.